What is your first reaction when you hear the phrase birth photography? For a lot of us, our first reaction is, “Really? Why would I want a photo of that?” After all, no one looks their best while they’re experiencing the often messy miracle of childbirth. But Vancouver-area mom, doula and photographer Jaydene Freund is changing that. In the process she’s redefining motherhood – and birth – for herself and her clients.
Redefining Birth Through the Camera Lens
Jaydene’s adventures in birth photography started when one of her doula clients asked her to photograph the birth. Trained as a photographer, she agreed. She shares, “I got home, I downloaded the photos, and I was sitting on my bed bawling because I thought they were just the most beautiful images I had ever seen. I knew from that moment that I was hooked on birth photography.” She’s not the only one – birth photography is taking off. Jaydene says, “I’ve been doing this for a few years and this year it has definitely exploded. People are way more excited about it and I think it definitely has caught on.” As birth photography catches on, it’s redefining the way we view the whole experience.
Few of us look our best while giving birth, and Jaydene has had many of her friends decline her offer to photograph their births, for fear of what the images will look like. However, like many other events, once birth is over it’s over, and you can’t get those moments back. Jaydene says, “A few years later my friends all say, ‘Man, I wish we would have taken you up on that offer.’”
Keeping it Family-Friendly
All of this begs the question – what sorts of images are actually captured with birth photography? And what do you do with them? After all, it’s the rare mom who wants her in-laws, work colleagues and Facebook friends seeing her in certain situations. Jaydene says, “A professional photographer who has photographed births before knows how to find complimentary angles where you aren’t fully exposed. For example, if a mom says she wants a photo of a one-second-old baby I’ll place myself behind the bed so that when the doctor lifts up the baby you can see the baby, but any of her body parts are out of the frame. They’re not as graphic as you would think they would be. There might be one graphic shot in 200, and it’s up to you to decide what you do with it.”
As the mom of a toddler herself, being a birth photographer takes some juggling. Babies come when they come, and there’s not always a lot of time to spare in getting there. Jaydene shares, “Every call is tricky because you never know when it’s going to come. If things are moving fast I have to find a place for my son and quick. I have my sister I can drop him off with, or I have a back-up daycare. With birth photography you’re photographing for hours but you don’t know what day, you actually don’t know even when you’re coming home. I think that’s why birth photographers charge what they do, because they’re living an on-call lifestyle.” With every call, you’re redefining the way that you combine work and parenting.
Capturing Moments, Not Controlling Birth
Many critics seem to feel that birth photography is overly-indulgent, and an example of moms trying to control every aspect of their lives. Jaydene views it differently. She says, “The cool thing about photos is that because they are beautiful moments captured, a lot of birth photography does jog back positive memories for women when they’re looking through their photos. Even if they had more of a traumatic birth, birth photos can be very healing for the women and help them process their birth. They focus on the good details that they want to remember in their photos.” It’s not about being a diva, it’s about capturing a family event that will only happen once.
Thank you so much, Jaydene, for sharing how you’re redefining motherhood and birth!